With buy-to-let landlords across the country being pushed out of the market by increasing costs and legislation, and new investors deterred from entering, the number of available homes to rent in some parts of the country, including London, is falling at an alarming rate, and at a time when a lack of affordable housing is forcing councils to leave people homeless.
Some 38% of people who approached their local authority for help since the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) was introduced either remained homeless or became homeless because councils do not have enough genuinely affordable housing available, a new report from Crisis shows.
The report, based on 984 surveys and 89 in-depth interviews with people experiencing homelessness, provides the first real insight into how the HRA is working in practice since it was introduced two years ago.
The HRA was designed to stop people from becoming homeless in the first place, with the research revealing that more people are now getting access to the help they need. But despite many councils' best efforts, dwindling housing supply and rising rents outstripping wages and benefits means they have little to no housing available for more and more people.
The homelessness charity is calling for more to be done to ensure the HRA can reach its full potential of preventing and ending homelessness across England.
According to the research, more than half of people renting privately said that mounting financial pressures and insecurities with their tenancy had pushed them into homelessness, while loss of employment and mental health problems also played a significant part.
Crisis chief executive, John Sparkes, said: “It's deeply distressing that, across England, councils are being forced to leave the people they are trying to help on the streets or drifting from sofa to sofa - all because they cannot find somewhere safe and affordable for them to live. The HRA has made some good progress in preventing people from becoming homeless, but it’s worrying to see that it’s being constrained by a chronic lack of housing and cuts to housing benefit.
“The HRA can be at the heart of ending homelessness for good, as this report shows, but this is only possible if councils are properly resourced and have the tools, they need to help people leave homelessness behind for good.
“It’s vital that the government gets to grips with the root causes pushing people into homelessness in the first place, this means ensuring more social homes are built across the country and that housing benefit is restored to truly cover the cost of rent. Only when these measures are in place will we be able to unleash the full potential of the HRA.”